Feeds

UK boffin demos plane-based broadband

Whatever next?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Radio scientists in the UK have successfully demonstrated the first air-to-ground mesh broadband connection. A microlight plane established a broadband connection with the South Witham mesh, at an altitude of 2,000 feet. Voice and data traffic was sent over the link.

The project, in late January, was prompted by Australian mesh network provider Make Me Wireless, which is evaluating potential new markets for mesh technology. A mesh network is a self-configuring, self-healing network of broadband nodes that routes data, through the network, to an internet connection. Advocates of the technology maintain that it is particularly well suited to regions where it is hard to lay cables.

A perfect example of such a region is the Australian outback, where there are many isolated meterological stations. At the moment, data is collected from many of these by hand, with teams driving out to each station in turn to pick up the readings. Collecting data from the outback weather stations is very laborious, and Make Me Wireless wanted to know if the data could be collected by a plane flying over the weather stations instead.

The company approached Roy Eddleston, a UK-based radio technology specialist, to find out if ground-to-air mesh networking would be feasible. Eddleston told us: "I thought it should work in theory, but as far as I knew, no-one had ever tried. Mesh technology seemed ideal, because we could mesh and upload data from several stations at once."

So he set about trying to find out if it could be done.

Simon Steele, director of Make Me Wireless, said: "Roy is joining us in Australia to help develop our Mesh offerings. We discussed that we had been approached about airborne Mesh and the next thing we knew he had liaised with Ofcom, the UK telecommunications regulator, sorted the aircraft, pilot, and arranged the test flight."

The test flight was carried out in a microlight aircraft. This has a composite hull, vital to the attempt because the antennae had to be kept inside the plane. Eddleston explained: "If the antennae are externally mounted, you need CAA approval. But an aluminium plane is effectively a faraday cage. So the microlight was the ideal test craft."

The amount of data that needs to be collected shouldn't pose any problems, he says. "If you have a downward-facing, omni-directional antenna and you take a circular flight path, there is no problem caused by a doppler effect, and you just fly around that path until you have uploaded all the data."

The test was conducted using LocustWorld MeshAP PRO and Asterisk VoIP equipment, and more tests are planned as soon as the weather clears. The trials in South Witham have proved the point, Eddleston says, but it is still early days.

Although Eddleston reckons the technology only needs another couple of months of development - mostly on antenna design, he says he doesn't know what stage the weather stations are at. ®

Related stories

Municipal Wi-Fi access schemes unjust - report
BT promises to play fair, in Ofcom appeasement
Cambridge wireless network to close
Wireless rural BB service names the day

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
TEEN RAMPAGE: Kids in iPhone 6 'Will it bend' YouTube 'prank'
iPhones bent in Norwich? As if the place wasn't weird enough
Consumers agree to give up first-born child for free Wi-Fi – survey
This Herod network's ace – but crap reception in bullrushes
Crouching tiger, FAST ASLEEP dragon: Smugglers can't shift iPhone 6s
China's grey market reports 'sluggish' sales of Apple mobe
Sea-Me-We 5 construction starts
New sub cable to go live 2016
New EU digi-commish struggles with concepts of net neutrality
Oettinger all about the infrastructure – but not big on substance
PEAK IPV4? Global IPv6 traffic is growing, DDoS dying, says Akamai
First time the cache network has seen drop in use of 32-bit-wide IP addresses
EE coughs to BROKEN data usage metrics BLUNDER that short-changes customers
Carrier apologises for 'inflated' measurements cockup
Comcast: Help, help, FCC. Netflix and pals are EXTORTIONISTS
The others guys are being mean so therefore ... monopoly all good, yeah?
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.